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Italian government reportedly kicks off move to fine Telecom Italia

Telecom ItaliaItalian authorities have kicked off the process that could end with Telecom Italia (TIM) incurring a fine for failing to notify the government that France’s Vivendi had taken de facto control of the company, according to a press report.

According to Reuters, citing an unnamed government source, a government panel met yesterday to conclude its investigation into Vivendi’s involvement in TIM and launched the process to fine the operator.

The Italian government had been edging towards taking action against TIM and Vivendi for some time, with a growing possibility that it could activate its so-called ‘golden power’ to intervene in the case where national strategic interests are threatened.

Markets regulator CONSOB ruled two weeks ago that Vivendi did exercise effective control over TIM, despite the denials of both the telco and Vivendi, its largest shareholder.

CONSOB ruled that Vivendi, which holds a 23.94% stake in TIM, “exercises de facto control of TIM pursuant to art. 2359 of the Italian Civil Code and art. 93 of the Consolidated Law on Finance, as well as the rules on related parties”.

TIM at the time said that it would “take all appropriate legal actions in order to defend its interests, and is confident its conduct is correct and its arguments are strong.”

TIM and Vivendi have denied that the latter has control, arguing that the pair are “coordinating” in specific, limited areas, including the creation of a joint venture between Vivendi’s pay TV subsidiary Canal+ and TIM to create a new premium video service for the Italian market.